hello. i'm wolf blitzer from des moines, iowa. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington d.c., 8:00 p.m. in jerusalem. wherever you are watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. up first, presidential politics here in the united states. the republican frontrunner backing out of the debate days before the iowa caucuses. it's the latest round in the feud between donald trump and fox news. trump campaigns in south carolina this evening. meanwhile, candidates from both parties, they're fanning out across iowa with the caucuses just five days away. our correspondents are covering every move, and it's donald
trump who is making wave waves saying he will skip thursday night's republican presidential debate. jim, this follows months and months of tension. apparently it's been growing between donald trump and fox news. especially the fox news anchor megyn kelly. how did things escalate to this point? >> that's right, wolf. at this point it doesn't seem like either side is backing down. donald trump's campaign manager, i talked to him a little bit earlier today. he is essentially saying what he said earlier this morning when he did some morning talk show appearances, and that is that donald trump is planning to move forward with these plans for an event, rival event, i guess you could call it, tomorrow evening, that will be up against the fox news gop debate during which donald trump will be appearing
with some veterans groups. that is donald trump's plan at this point. not to participate in the fox news republican debate. that is extraordinary. obviously as you know. >> earlier today the statement put out yesterday by fox news was a disgrace to good broadcasting and journalism. who would ever say anything so nasty and dumb and wolf, he even went after megyn kelly who was expected to be one of the moderators of tomorrow's debate. he says in this other tweet, i refuse to call megyn kelly a bimbo because that would not be
politically correct. instead i will only call her a lightweight reporter. so, wolf, you know, usually at this point at this stage in the campaign just days before the iowa caucuses, you would expect two rival candidates attacking each other in that kind of fashion. not a candidate in a television network. we're in unchartered territory, and we'll have to see how it plays out. he will be here later on tonight here in south carolina just outside of the state capitol of columbia, and that's just going to show you how confident donald trump is that he is leaving iowa at this point to come to a place like south carolina, which, yes, is in a couple of weeks from now. their primary here in a couple of weeks from now, but normally candidates are on the ground in iowa at this stage. just goes to show you donald trump is doing whatever he wants, and for now it appears to be working for him. >> how is all this playing out there in the world of social media? >> well, you know, it's really crazy. there's a lot of speculation right now. will donald trump actually skip out on the debate? will he hold true to his word?
i just ran into republican national committee spokesperson sean spicer here on the ground in des moines, and i said, you know, sean, is donald trump going to show up to this debate, and he said flatly no. he has talked to him many times today. donald trump's plan, as of now, is definitely not to show up to the debate despite what people are speculating on social media about some sort of late stage entry. it's really clear that trump and fox news have sort of reached the point of no return. the insults, barbs are escalating. now it seems that he elizabeth on that stage tomorrow night, and in so doing, he is trying to sort of control the narrative, steal the spotlight and away from the other candidates. whether that actually works or whether they benefit from not having him on stage remains to be seen. >> i'm going to speak to sean spicer later on this hour. thanks to you. how are donald trump's rivals out there reacting to his decision? senator ted cruz is challenging trump to a one-on-one debate. listen.
>> we are effectively tied in the state of iowa. if he is unwilling to stand on the debate stage with the other candidates, then i would like to invite donald right now to engage in a one-on-one debate with me any time between now and the iowa caucuses. >> all right. let's get some reaction from another presidential candidate, trump's decision. dr. ben carson is joining us live. thanks very much for joining us. what was your reaction when you heard that donald trump would skip the fox debate? >> well, i didn't know whether that was true or not or whether that's actually going to happen, but i'm not sure that it matters that much because it's not really about me or donald trump or ted cruz or any of the candidates. it's about the american people.
>> how if at all will that affect your strategy? >> the fewer people there are, the more time you will actually get to explain things. what i'm finding as i go around the state of iowa and really everywhere is when i have an taunt to explain to people, they get it. if they don't have to take the interpretation of me from media and they get to listen themselves, it makes although difference in the world. the more time that i have to explain things to people, the better because we have to, again, remember that we are choosing a president of the united states at a critical time. we have to make the right decisions. we cannot be manipulated.
we have to make intelligent decisions. >> the polls at least in iowa, the caucuses, shows that it's really a los race between donald trump and ted cruz. you really need to come in third, don't you? >> well, i think, wolf, maybe you can make the announcement. there's going to be a big surprise that night and the day after. all you guys are going to be scratching your heads and saying what happened here? i can virtually guarantee you that's going to be the case. >> are you guaranteeing that you'll come in third? is that what you are saying? >> i'll just guarantee you that you guys are going to be very surprised by the results because the people, as i'm seeing them, as i am going around, are waking up in droves, and they are making the determination that they're not going to let a bunch of other people determine for them who they should be voting for, who they should be thinking about.
they are going to listen to their hearts. they're going to recognize that chir children and grandchildren have is a future here, and it's going to turn into something else if we don't wake up pretty quickly. >> who do you see, dr. carson, as a bigger threat to your ambition to be the next president of the united states? donald trump or ted cruz? >> i don't see either one of them as a threat to me. i see the threat being the fact that people sometimes are not well educated. i'm sure you have seen some of the man on the street interviews where people are asked about basic issues, and they don't have a clue what you are talking about. yet, these are people who vote. it's what our founders were talking about when they said that our freedom and our system is based upon a well informed and educated populous, and if we ever change into something else, then we will change as a nation. i implore people to really
inform yourself about who the candidates are, inform yourself of what their positions are. ben carson.com. go to our website. read what our policies are on taxes, on foreign policy. you know, we put out a policy today on how to defeat isis. these are important issues for our country. >> on these critically important issues, dr. carson, what's the biggest difference between where you stand on these irons and where, say, donald trump stands? >> well, i think one of the things that will become very apparent is that i have put out very specific policy issues. i don't just talk in generali generalities about these things because we have to have a real solution. look at our tax plans. look at the differences between
our tax planes. there's no deductions. there wills no loopholes. there's no setters. there's no double taxation, death tax. no capital gains tax. it is purely proposed to drive growth. agencies have praised it as the one plan that will, in fact, promote growth. that's one very clear example. >> what about on the war against isis? how would you defeat isis? what's the biggest difference in your strategy as opposed, let's say, to donald trump?
>> that's not the way to do it. the way to do it is to find the gulf and to talk to our joint chiefs and military experts and say what do you need in order to accomplish that goal, and then give them what they need without tying their hands behind their back. also, depriving them of the money that they get from oil and shutting down their avenues of dispersion of money because they go after the disaffected people all over the world, including our nation. not allow them to do that. this won't be able to recruit people, and attack their command and control centers. have them on the run all the time so they don't have time to plan what they're going to do here. then over here we have to close the borders. we have the ability to do this. we've proved that in yuma county that you can do it. we just need to on it in all nine sectors, and we need to tighten we need to take that
into consideration. we need to be talking to the imams and the clerics in this country, getting them involved in helping to identify the radical elements if they are not willing to do that. we have to take appropriate measures. you know, we need to look at our visa and immigration policies, and they have to make sense. we cannot affording to be bringing people into this country, and i wouldn't do it on the basis of religion. i would do it on the basis of what makes sense. where are these people coming from? where have they been? not just the kind of questions that we have been asking. are you a terrorist? are you planning any terrorist activities? come on. give me a break. >> you wouldn't do what donald trump is -- dr. carson. you wouldn't do what donald
trump is recommending? a temporary ban on all muslims coming into the united states until the u.s. can figure out what's going on, pair phraraphr what his position is. you don't support that decision? >> no, i don't think you can do it on the basis of religion. you know, that's not typically what we do. >> a lot of terrorists can come from a lot of different areas. we can be much smarter than simply to target muslims. you know, when it comes to muslims, here's what i have to say. i dwru up in detroit. there are a lot of muslims there, a lot of good people i played with, they were friends. teddy roosevelt, i think, had the right physical ones if i. when he said we're a nation of immigrants. everybody is welcome to come to our country from any race, any
religion, any country if they want to be americans, if they accept our values and principles and our laws, and if they don't, they stay where they are. that makes perfectly good sense. >> dr. carson, stay with us. we have more questions for you. some of the most critically important ishsz. we'll continue our conversation in just a moment. also, what is the republican national committee think about donald trump's decision to back out of the next republican debate tomorrow night? we're going to ask the spokesman for the rnc. that's coming up as well. hi i'm heather cox
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would provide a great deal of momentum. you know, that would be the same with anybody who wins both of those early primaries or certainly if they won all three. except for the last cycle whoever won south carolina went on to win the nomination. that is also an extremely important state. we don't want to minimize the importance of that. >> south carolina very important. trump is doing well arks coringed to the polls, in south carolina. he now has jerry falwell jr., the president of liberty university in virginia, his endorsement. sarah palin, of course, sheriff joe arrapa somewhere o of arizona. these are major endorsements. especially in a state, let's say, like iowa. you would have loved those endorsements, wouldn't you? >> honestly i don't care that much except for one endorsement, and that is the endorsement of the american people. this is about the american
people. this is not about past politicians. this is not about celebrities. this is not about any of the things that we tend to try to make into important factors. it's only about the american people. we need to be recognizing that they are the only special interest group for which we should be directing our attentions. >> one final question, dr. carson, before i let you get out there on the campaign trail. if you were elected president of the united states, what's the first -- what's the most important thing you would do on day one, january 20th, the day you would be inaugurated 2017? >> i would call for a joint session of congress, and i would make it very clear that we work for the people, they don't work for us, and that i will not be signing anything that borrows from the future of our children. we are going to refocus our attentions on their security and
their safety and they are financial well being, and that will govern everything we do. >> thank you for so much for joining us. >> coming up, the republican national committee standing by to weigh in on donald trump's controversial decision. tomorrow night, the communications director sean spicer, he is standing by live. there he is right there. he will give us his take on the boycott, what it means. a lot more with sean when we come back. introducing metris, the mid-size van from mercedes-benz. it's got small-ability and big-ability. towing-ability and stowing-ability. rack-ability and hvac-ability. it's fully customizable and sized just right to give you cupcake-ability, entourage-ability... ...garage-ability and even afford-ability. starting at $28,950. available in cargo or passenger. from mercedes-benz.
the buzz surrounding tomorrow night's republican presidential debate is not about who is in, it's about who is out. donald trump has decided at least for now to skip the debate as a result of this continuing war with fox news. what does all this mean for the republican party? sean spicer is chief strategist communications director for the
rnc. joining us now from des moines. when you heard about it, i'll ask you the same question i asked dr. carson. when you heard that donald trump was going to boycott the debate, what was your reaction? >> well, obviously, i mean, dr. paul skipped the last one and mr. trump is not going -- says he is not going to come to this one. we love all the candidates. it's a great opportunity for the american people and particularly the people in iowa to have an understanding of teaching these candidates vision, but, wolf, at the end of the day, this is each campaign has to make up their own mind as to what's in their best interest, and, you know, so we respect that decision. >> from the standpoint of the rnc, is it in the best interest to have trump in that debate? >> well, again, i would love to have all of these candidates in the debate. i think each one of them brings a unique perspective and gives voters an opportunity to hear them more before these keep caucuses and primaries that are cup. it's not my decision or the rnc's decision to tell them how
or where to be or what to do. each of them has to make that decision as to what is in their best interest, and our job is to respect that decision. >> you can answer this if you want. back channel negotiations, efforts underway by the rnc, youth, trying to make peace between roger, the head of fox news, and donald trump? >> no. no. that's -- you know, the candidates our job at the rnc is to respect the candidates and get out of the way. let them directly communicate with these networks with respect to the current and upcoming debates.
generally both sides have had an unwritten rule saying empty podiums will not be shown, and that would be the case this time as well. >> and as the rnc -- >> remember, you know, just remember the last debate that was the same thing to dr. paul when he chose not to attend it that you know, no podium was shown in that one either. >> he wouldn't attend because it was in the undercard, the earlier debate. he was invite to that one. he thought he should be in the primetime debate. as a result, there was no empty electric turn. you don't think there will be an empty electric turn tomorrow night, right? >> no. i'm confident. >> challenging a one-on-one with or without a moderator. that presumably would be unsanctioned by the republican national committee. would you be okay with that assuming trump accepted that hallening? >> no.
i think the rules that the rnc put forward at the beginning of the cycle were put forward at the behest of the candidate that stated that the only sanctioned debates were one that is we -- the candidates could participate in without facing any -- we're very, you know -- we're very happy with the schedule. we think the candidates can happen happy with the schedule. we have several more to go, including two more on cnn. we obviously stand by the rules that have been passed, which is in sharp contrast to what you have seen on the other side of the aisle, this debacle that, you know, having another debate proposed in new hampshire on the democratic side now a war between the candidates as to who is going to attend and who is not. >> is this tomorrow night debate going to be the last debate with an undercard and a primetime two separate debates? is that the last team we're going see that? >> i think there's more to come on that. i'll leave that up to abc to announce their criteria that should be sometime shortly. >> a lot of speculation on today that abc, which is going to do
the next republican debate after the fox debate, but they're not going to have an undercard. just a primetime debate, and i'm just trying to get a sense is that okay with the rnc? >> i'm going to punt that one and leave that up to abc to announce the criteria for that. i think the toons that will be settled shortly. >> all right. what should we expect tomorrow night without donald trump on the stage? what do you think? it's going to be less lively, more lively accident more attacks against ted cruz who could be the front run other that stage tomorrow night. give us your analysis? >> i think that what we have seen in each of these debates is very robust and lively discussion on the issues of the candidates putting forward. i think you're going to see the same thing tomorrow night. you know, when we had the last debate where we had a smaller main stage debate, i think you had a bunch more substantive discussions. i think you'll see another one tomorrow night. >> one final question, sean. trump says during the time of that primetime debate on fox tomorrow night, he is going to
have an alternatetive event, shall we say, raising money for wounded warriors out in iowa someplace. a telethon, all that kind of stuff. is that okay with you? >> i mean, it doesn't really matter, i guess, is the answer. i mean, as far as we would obviously as i said at the top i love to have mr. trump be part of this debate. he has the right to not attend or to attend based on what he believes is in his campaign's best interest. i do think -- i applaud the goal that he is trying to serve and help the veterans. obviously, i love it at an alternative time because we have a great schedule. the rnc has gone to great lengths to make sure this debate process is in the best interest of the candidates. obviously my -- you know, the rnc's position is we love everyone at that debate. we love everyone focused on that debate, but, you know, it's a good cause. >> sean spicer is with the rnc. thanks very much. good luck at the debate tomorrow
night. >> thanks. >> coming up, just a few days before the iowa voters picked their candidates in the caucuses, how are they reacting to the news that donald trump is skipping the last debate before the caucuses? we're going back to iowa right after a quick break. and energy to stay healthy. who's with me?! yay! the complete balanced nutrition of great tasting ensure. with 9 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. ensure. take life in! and clean and real and nowhere to be,o, and warmth and looking good, and sandwich and soup and inside jokes, and dan is back! good, clean food pairs well with anything. the clean pairings menu. 500 calories or less. at panera. food as it should be.
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>> donald trump rewriting the political playbook after the republican presidential debate. the last one scheduled before the very important iowa caucuses. the question now, what will be voters, people in iowa, the republican caucus goers think about all of this? joining us now is cathy, mrekt columnist for the des moines register, newspaper in iowa. cathy, thanks very much for joining us. what has been the reaction out there among republican caucus goers? >> well, i think people are surprised that donald trump is passing up on a last opportunity to talk to a really big audience here before the iowa caucuses? of course, there has been a
really, i think, tight battle between donald trump and ted cruz, and it's gotten to be a nasty balgt as well, and you know what they say, be there or be talked about. trump is also missing an opportunity to answer become to the attacks that probably will come from the other candidates on that debate stage. >> he says what he wants to do instead is have a different event at the same time in iowa to raise money for wounded warriors. how is that going to play? >> well, you know, i think that i said this for a long time, that the only thing that really hurts donald trump in the polls is if everybody turns off their camera and ignores him, right? that's not going to happen. he is still going to get a place in the spotlight. he is going to be out front and center and, of course, doing something for charity as opposed to being part of the political fista cuff on this debate. i honestly don't think that missing this debate is going to actually hurt donald trump.
i do think it's unfortunate for the voters. >> ted cruz, as you know, has challenged trump to a one-on-one debate. just the two of them for 90 minutes with or without a moderator. how will that play? we just heard the rnc, the republican national committee spokesman sean spicer say that would not be authorized for the rnc and should not take place. >> yeah. i don't think that's the only reason it won't happen. you know, i think that trump right now has a lead. there's not really any benefit to him to give ted cruz an opportunity being one-on-one with donald trump on stage, and i also think that ted cruz is an excellent debater, and donald trump has his own style as well. i just don't think that trump has any up side to letting something like that happen. >> so basically, what's your assessment right now? two-man race in the iowa caucuses. either trump is ahead or cruz is
ahead. the last polls we've seen trump a little bit more ahead. what's your assessment? you've been covering this story now for a long time. >> it sure looks like a two-man race, wolf, also i have to say i am waiting for the des moines register's iowa poll, the gold standard, to come out this weekend and we'll see what our pollster has to say about that. you know, for the last month or so it really has looked like a two-man race, and a fight for third place as well between ben carson and marco rubio. we always talk about there being three tickets out of iowa, and on the republican side, you know, we sort of know pretty much where those tickets might be going. we just don't know what order. >> yeah. dr. ben carson told us at the top of the hour he is going to surprise a lot of people in iowa. he said i am predicting it right here on your show.
let's turn to the democrats fighting for the presidential nomination. president obama just wrapped up an oval office meeting with bernie sanders just two days after the president offered some high praise for his opponent, hillary clinton. our c this n poll of polls, by the way, shows a statistical dead heat between clinton and sanders just five days out of the iowa caucuses. you see the numbers right there. joining us now from des moines, iowa, simone sanders, the press secretary for the bernie sanders campaign. simone, thanks very much for joining us. the president says he is not
endorsing any of these democratic candidates until the primary process is over with. just a little while ago following his meeting in the oval office with senator sanders, senator sanders emerged in the driveway there outside the west wing and said this. listen to this. what ripe biden has ride to do to be as even-handed as they can be. i know there was some discussion the other day about a political interview. we're used to -- i don't believe that at all. i think he and the vice president have tried to be fair and even-handed in the process. i expect -- >> it's good for there to be
such a robust debate going on about who should be our party's nominee. it good for the economy, and it's also good for the party, and in the context of that debate, senator sanders has had great success. engaging and even inspiring. a large segment of the democratic party. >> i am told this only the second time that this was the second time we've been in the -- he was in the oval office today, but they have spoken on a number of other occasions. i think it's important to know just as the senator said when he left the white house that the president and the vice president have been very even-handed in
this and we're just -- we're happy about the way things are going. >> what's the biggest difference from a democratic perspective, democratic caucus goers, the biggest difference from your perspective, simone, between hillary clinton and bernie sanders? >> he is taking on the academy that we believe is held in place by a system of corrupt campaign finance. he is the only candidate in this race that is standing up to the billionaire class. he is the only candidate that has a real plan for lifting up the middle class in america. that is the key difference. he is inspiring folks. he has the enthusiasm, but what's much more important is that the people had this enthusiasm, and this is not just about senator sanders. this is about the people.
>> he has i darcht idea, and i fear it would lead to gridlock, not action. it would throw us into a contentious national debate that would not move us forward, and i don't think the people i have met in iowa can wait. >> your reaction. >> my reaction, wolf, is she's right. the people in iowa, they cannot wait. there are 29 million americans in this country who are uninsured. millions more are under insured. senator sanders' plan is nor universal health care. it builds on the success that is the affordable health care act, and it keeps things in place. this is the -- this is really the culmination of what the affordable health care act was about. i agree with secretary clinton. folks in iowa, folks across this country cannot wait, and that is why we must move to provide universal health care, health care for all right now because
health care in this country should be a right. just like education. >> simone, as you know, the new hampshire leader new hampshire and msnbc they say the plan -- they want to defy the dnc, the democratic national committee and host the democratic presidential debate in new hampshire five days before the state's primary. here's the question. will senator sanders participate? >> you know, wolf, our campaign manager has been out there talking about this, and he has noted that we are going to work with the dnc to provide more opportunities for robust debate and forums and what not in this election. we want to hear from the folks that want to be president. that's why we are out here pounding the payment in iowa. the senator in minnesota right now. he is back in iowa tonight.
we're going to be out here and meeting with the folks in iowa all throughout the weekend, all will be in new hampshire the following day. meeting, again, with folks in new hampshire. meeting people where they are. talking about the issues that they most care about. >> thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. talk to you again soon. >> coming up, ted cruz's wife stepping up her defense of her husband. this is sheldon whose long day setting up the news starts with minor arthritis pain and a choice. take tylenol or take aleve, the #1 recommended pain reliever by orthopedic doctors. just two aleve can keep pain away all day. back to the news.
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away from his main rival, donald trump and reclaim his lead in the hawk eye state. tonight he is speaking at a pro-life rally with former texas governor rick perry who recently endorsed him. that's not the only help ted cruz is receiving. his wife is out on the campaign trail drumming up lofts support as well. heidi cruz spoke to dana bash who is with me. i saw part of the interview. but we have got more. she is an impressive woman in her own right. >> she is. in the past ten months she has been working hard behind the scenes as a key player in his campaign. now she is coming out and having the more traditional role of the political wife, trying to humanize him. it's probably not too late for ted cruz since we know what a donald trump has been saying about him. you have probably heard donald trump is really going after your husband very hard on this likability issue.
he called ted cruz nasty, a whack job, someone who can't get along with people. what do you, ted cruz's wife of 15 years like to say to donald trump about that. >> well, i want to tell the american people who ted is. and. >> and who is that? >> an incredibly thoughtful person a. person who never miss as birthday, who never misses valentines. who reads bedtime stories to his daughters. >> even from the senate floor. >> and more importantly at home a. person who when i'm busy running around trying to pack who he had more on his plate sat town and packed my suit case for me. that's the kind of person ted is. >> where you are in the campaign, when you have someone like donald trump who has successfully called jeb bush low energy he is trying to make this ted cruz's label. how do you push back on that? >> well, we push back on it in many ways. it's easy to do because it's who we are. we don't need to go through the
eyes of other candidates. we can give the voters a chance to meet us detectively, meet ted directly. >> probably not a surprise to you that your husband is sort of actively disliked by a lot of his colleagues in the senate. republican colleagues in the senate. but you chose to spend your life with him. why are they wrong? >> it's very clear. when you go out and campaign with ted, you see why they're wrong. when you go to a rally a town hall a one on one, ted is personable. he has a conversation with people. he describes the fundamental principles of the founding this country. he answer's pooems people's questions. he listens to them. he takes their advice. he's patient. and those that say they dislike him are the very people americans are trying to vote out of office. >> i know you probably pack lynn's suit case all the time.
she says he doesn't compromise, that's what she likes mosti about him, he stands for principal. >> she went to harvard and got an mba and has worked at goldman sachs which all of a sudden in republican circles is controversial. >> there is. i asked about the fact that there could be a contradiction that ted cruz won in 2012 in his senate race, running for president very much against the establishment and wall street was helped out big time by big government. she worked for the epitome of wall street. she had a quick answer. she said look, she's in charge. she is an executive in the houston office. she is in charge of helping people manage their money interrupt nears and she turn it into the fact that it's good for the american people to make wealth outside the government
sector. she is polished. i think a big part of it is she worked on a campaign. >> and she is on leave from goldman sachs now. >> she is on leave so she can devote full time to her husband's campaign. >> we are going to have more coming up in the situation room as well. dana, thachg for that. for the latest in flits and all the presidential contenders head over to cnn politics.com. we leave you with this. barack obama will be at the israeli embassy while israel honors two americans as righteous among the nations. one of those being recognized is the first american soldier ever to receive the honor, master sergeant ronnie edmonds was a p.o.w. at a nazi concentration camp and ordered with a gun pointed to his head to separate out his jewish soldiers. he refused.
and the next day all his brothers stood together alive. that's it for me. thank for watching. for our international viewers, am pan pour is next. f viewers in new york america, newsroom with brooke baldwin starts right now. >> wolf blitzer, thank you so much. hi, everyone, i'm brooke baldwin. you are watching cnn. two major stories we are following on this wednesday. first up, donald trump refusing to take part in this last debate before the iowa caucuses over this feud with fox news. the backlash and reaction. it is rolling in. you will hear what his campaign is now saying. but first we have to take you to oregon. breaking news there any moment now the fbi will be giving a news conference about the standoff that has now turned deadly against the activist holding a government building hostage -- a federal government building